Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville

February 2012

Dark clouds are gathering; a twister is forming fast. I slam the door and shout to the others to seek safety. Within seconds a leaded glass window explodes; shards of glass blanket the floor like diamonds. I walk carefully; my feet are bare. Despite the chaos, I am calm.

Dreams can help us understand what we are feeling even when those feelings are unconscious. This one helped me see that despite the chaos around me, I am calm. This dream reminded me that given time the sun will break through and all will be well. 

Last month, I lost my beloved Dalmatian, Lucy; we’d been constant companions for twelve years. At the same time, one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with cancer. She’s going to be fine; she has to be. I love her too much to lose her. Finally, work is transitioning, and while that’s a good thing, it’s also unsettling. I’m in the middle of a twister, and yet when I pause and breathe I find peace.

Last month, we began a three-month series of articles exploring intentions. In January, we examined intention from 50,000 feet with a life plan, and this month we’ll zoom down to 5,000 feet to take a look at an annual plan. Finally, in March we’ll study intention from 500 feet with a daily plan.

P.S. If you’d like more information on the power of intention, check out my latest special report: Determine Your Destiny: Be Your Best Through Intention

Intention from 50,000 Feet: Your Annual Plan

 Most businesspeople scratch their heads when I ask if they write an annual marketing plan. “An annual plan?” most reply. “You have to be joking.”

No, I’m not joking. Successful businesspeople begin each year by selecting specific goals. “It’s hard to map where you’re going if you don’t have a destination,” I tell them.

My marketing plan is pretty detailed; it includes sections dealing with my professional, personal, physical, and spiritual lives. Marketing plans deal with annual goals; they are great for staying focused. Like personal marketing plans, annual plans help us stay focused, but they help us stay focused on intentions rather than goals.

To take a five-thousand-foot view of intention, consider committing to two to four intentions for the year. Any more than that may be too ambitious.

Here are four steps to get you started:

  1. List all of your accomplishments during the last twelve months.
  2. List any disappointments you may have experienced over the past twelve months.
  3. Write down what you learned from both your accomplishments and disappointments.
  4. List two to four primary lessons or guideposts you would like to remember over the next twelve months.

When I completed this exercise a while back, I came up with four intentions:

  1. Root and connect.
  2. Befriend time.
  3. Live in gratitude.
  4. Practice generosity.

Root and connect. Last summer, I rented an apartment in New York for five months. One of my dreams had always been to live New York. I divided my time between New York, Asheville, and a multitude of cities where I serviced clients. It was a wonderful experience, but it did not allow me time to nurture the relationships in my life. This year, I intend to spend more time at home and nurture the friendships in my life.

Befriend time. I got a speeding ticket several months ago; I was driving 35 miles per hour in a school zone. Once again, I was in a rush to nowhere. (I was on my way to the YMCA, for Pete’s sake.) Shelling out $120 to pay the ticket was a wake-up call. Time was becoming my enemy. I was constantly at war with the clock. This year, I want to befriend time. Specifically, I want to:

  • Allow more space between the events of my life, valuing introspection as much as activity.
  • Slow down and become more present to the present.
  • Appreciate and make the most of each moment, not taking time for granted. 

Live in gratitude. One of my ongoing intentions is to live in gratitude. I know that I’m happiest whenever I tune into gratitude. One practice I began last year was to recount three people, situations, or things that I am grateful for before going to bed each night. I want to continue that practice this year, and I want to stay focused on all I have in my life, rather than what is missing. 

Practice generosity. Finally, I want to view the world through the lens of abundance rather than scarcity. When I see life this way, I find that the more I give, the more I receive.

This year, I’ll work with a limited number of people for reduced or no fees. I will do this because I love this work, I believe in it, and I want this work to benefit as many people as possible. Using the expression from the movie Kevin Spacey made famous, I want to “pay it forward.” I enjoy doing this, not so much to be good as to feel good. It feels good to give and even better to give freely with no agenda.

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